How Tijuana Tacos became the hottest trend in Los Angeles

IIt’s 40 degrees on a Saturday morning in Englewood in March, the kind of cold that gnaws at your toes and makes your knuckles crack and bleed. It almost freezes Literallybut that didn’t stop a crowd from gathering at four-month-old Beeria Gomez, a Tijuana-style beria stand on a paved driveway on Lenox Boulevard.

Four employees race through their missions as the trembling crowd moves from one foot to the other. Finally, our food arrived. To balance out the bright red-stained Styrofoam dishes, we drink from konomi cups rich in beef fat and brimming with chili as we dig into tacos, molitas, and quesatacos filled with slow-cooked beef. The crowds were so large and consistent that Pereria Gomez flipped their stand in a full truck before the business was even five months old.

About 15 miles to the northeast, near the Cinco Pontos intersection in East Los Angeles, a line runs around the corner at Berria Villalobos, another Tijuana-style Berria specialty, which recently bypassed the car wash as it opened on weekends He was upgraded to a truck parked six days a week in this prime spot.

The six-month-old Birrieria Gonzalez Lounge in East Los Angeles also attracts a crowd. It’s part of Pereraria Gonzalez’s rapidly expanding empire, which now includes five trucks and two restaurants spread across east and south Los Angeles. Most of them opened last year, and the owners already have plans to launch more trucks.

At night, the party moves to Tijuana-style grilled meat stands like Angel’s in North Hollywood, El Viejon in East LA and the beloved Tire Shop in South Los Angeles.

Tijuana-style tacos, both their daytime birria operations and their nighttime counterparts, are spending a moment, finding fans from south Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and from Venice to East Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times And even the Super Bowl for notes.

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Beria goes bum

The exact parameters of Tijuana-style birria, a regional version of the classic Jalisciense party dish of slow-cooked meat served in juices, are subtle but the broad strokes are simple.

Beria is made of beef and the broth is heavily spiced and bright red in color from an array of hot peppers. It is mostly served for breakfast in the form of antojito – such as tacos, molitas, quesadillas, vampiros, and others. – And sprinkle it in large quantities, which you can also put on the side.

Teddy’s Red Tacos is the most famous birria de res success story, with truck in South LA, restaurant in Venice, recent review in Los Angeles Times And a special moment in ESPN’s major Deportes Commercial Super Bowl. The name comes from a certain flowering. Dip the tortillas into the cup before heating them on the flat surface, each die a deep crimson color. This practice is not unique but it is also far from existing.

Grilled Tijuana-style tacos have a rough set of instructions. if you ask Deceive , Your taco wears you onions, cilantro, sauce, a ball of guacamole made with avocado and nothing else, a point of deliberate contrast to the intensity of the meat and sauce. Another distinguishing feature is the paper rectangle wrapped around each taco in a cone so that one of the corners sticks out like a cat’s ear.

However, the mainstay of Tijuana-style tacos is the heat source. They should be cooked on mesquite wood, burning as close to the meat as possible so that the protein quickly chars and imbues with a smoky flavor.

At Tacos El Viejon, a year-old suite at Cesar Chavez and Hicks, near the aforementioned Cinco Puntos in East Los Angeles, the star of the show is taquero head Ray Velazquez. Customers approaching customers salute him as he places huge lumps of mesquite charcoal under the grate, tossing, stirring and watching thin slabs of beef rings and fat from chorizo. He operates the grill with all the attention and skill of a suburban father ten times as much as a summer’s cook. Sparks fly, embers spill on the sidewalk. No one seemed to mind being downwind because of the smoke.

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honed their craft

Ray’s son Alex Velasquez, who works at the platform and runs an Instagram account in the hours between finishing his engineering degree at Cal Poly Pomona, translates for his dad as Ray describes the family’s four-decade history in the taco business.

The Velazquez family grew up in Puebla, but in the early 1970s a group of them traveled to Tijuana to work as a pelter. They spent years learning the Tijuana technique before it spread across North America. Some of them have opened Taqueria restaurants in Puebla, others in Veracruz and now, some are popping up in Los Angeles. In fact, Cousin operates Tacos Don Cuco, a Tijuana-style tacoria a few miles east.

Velazquezes have taken decades to perfect their craft and their recipes are closely guarded secrets, even among family members. Alex says the only way to learn is to work on the platform for a long time. He hints that spying may also be an option. Within the family, it may have already happened.

Aside from mesquite charcoal and pure guacamole, Alex says in his mind that the only true rule for a Tijuana-style taco is care taken with each step. “It’s hard to say exactly, but everything has to be in place,” he says.

Which means Tijuana-style tacos are like porn – easy to identify but hard to spot and very popular on the internet.

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Taco as a status symbol

Almost every outfit has thousands of Instagram followers, from Don Cuco’s Tacos at the low end at 8000 to Angel’s Tijuana Tacos at 41k and Teddy’s Red Tacos with over 78000 followers. What makes them so successful on Instagram?

The picture of the tacos is good, for one thing. Paper cones and bright green guacamole grab the eye of the scroll without any gimmick. Many of the more popular Tijuana-style taco booths use an identical post format, an abundance of esoteric hashtags and petitions to “tag someone who loves tacos” in the comments. This last part is a quick way to spread awareness. It’s like the flu, people sneeze on buddy handles in posts, and build a network of well-known taco friends.

They have also become a status symbol, the last benefactor of the feedback loop between social media and traditional media. Foodies are helping make some tacos popular on Instagram. These reports appear in newspapers and on television. Casual taco fans are flocking to these tacos and posting pictures of them online in order to receive more media praise and attention.

When asked about his thoughts on the explosion of Tijuana-style tacos, Alex Velasquez cites the ease and breadth of Instagram, who enjoys running for the family, and the recent loosening of street vending laws.

Velazquez has always wanted to set up a podium in East Los Angeles, they inflated the competition and found it non-existent, but when they debuted in January 2018, they did so quietly to avoid legal trouble. Since the city enacted its new street food policy, in November 2018, they have finally felt comfortable working on a regular schedule.

Now they are putting their four-decade legacy to work in Los Angeles. We’re the lucky taco chasers who get the jack-o’-packed smoky rewards.

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